One wouldn’t expect this ill-written an article from the New York Times. In how many ways can you catalog the errors here?
You can start by wondering whether someone who cannot even spell “Gandhi” correctly is qualified to write about India. But we are inured to mis-spellings of Gandhi, so I shall pass that by.
But what about statements like these :
Over the decades a Ghandian fondness for some say idealization of rural life has also kept people in their villages, where the bonds of caste and custom remain strong.
Really? I must be mistaken, then, in thinking that one of India’s big problems is the exact opposite – the large scale migration to the cities because the villages are so backward, leaving overcrowded cities with creaking infrastructure.
One can wonder at the inability to get other names too, correct. Towards the end of the article, the author, Lydia Polgreen, quotes a woman called K. Aruna, later referred to as Ms. Aruna. But in the very next paragraph, Ms. Aruna mysteriously morphs into Ms. Karuna.
This error has been corrected in the current online edition and we learn that she was K. Aruna after all.
While these mistakes abound, they detract from what should have been the real focus of the story. Ms. Polgreen quotes a Rural Shores employee in Bagepalli, Karnataka – R. Saicharan, on how his team of 20 processes as much as 13,000 time sheets of American truck drivers each day. Which means that, assuming they work non-stop for 10 hours every day, they would still need to process 65 time sheets every hour, or more than 1 per minute. And for this level of sheer drudge work, they get paid about $ 60 per month. Not per hour, or even day or week. Per Month.
The irony is that because even this abysmally low pay is considered “excellent” in rural India, whichever American trucking company is outsourcing is already saving an er, truckload of money. But Rural Shores is not the company it outsourced to – Rural Shores is a sub-contractor base
So now we see a systematic change in the outsourcing industry model as outsourcers become middle-men, outsourcing their contracts to other, even lower-cost outsourcers. That, to me, was the real point of the story, that Ms. Polgreen completely failed to highlight. There are so many side-streets she could have explored here, like whether this off-shoot to the rural sector is driven by a shortage of call center workers in urban areas, or wage pressures increasing, or further recessionary cost cutting pressure from the American client.
I notice that Hari Kumar (from Bangalore?) has contributed reporting, but perhaps the New York Times should have just outsourced this article to an Indian reporter in Bagepalli. He/ she would probably have done a better job.